Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Editor Harte Weiner: She and her band of editors will make you cut yourself while shaving

Harte Weiner at the Bloc 11 Cafe in Somerville

Editor Harte Weiner: She and her band of editors will make you cut yourself while shaving

Article by Doug Holder

The renowned poet W. H. Auden said (and I paraphrase), “a good poem makes me cut myself while shaving.” And I guess the same principle applies to good editing. It cuts the fat off the bone of the manuscript, leaving it clean and making the readers hungry for more, more, more.

One morning, at my usual grazing grounds in the Bloc 11 Cafe in Somerville, I met Harte Weiner, founder of CambridgeEditors. We huddled around the fireplace and Weiner told me about the history of the said organization, she recalled “In 2003 I started CambridgeEditors. We have grown to about 35 editors and expanded from what remains our focus, creative writing, humanities and social sciences—to editing in other fields and professions. We are a little and literary company run out of my home in Cambridge, MA.”

Weiner, who is a member of Cambridgeport’s Temple Eitz Chayim where she met the poet Harris Gardner, loves the community there, and its encircling lyric-historic neighborhood. She has a very interesting literary background. Weiner told me in the 1980s she was an intern for the formidable literary magazine The Paris Review. Reviewing manuscripts for possible publication, she and others could work in the Upper East Side apartment of George Plumpton, the Review’s founder, just above the brick walled enclave of the office itself. Three responses slips were provided for return with their SASE’s. On the Review’s famous letter head stationery of iconoclastic American Eagle with pen wearing a French Revolutionary’s helmet of liberty, exciting new submissions received either, ‘Thank you, we’d like to see more;’ or the offer to publish.” Weiner remembers her elation at coming across real talent that she would pass along to Jonathan Galassi, the Review’s Poetry Editor at the time. Later Weiner would join the Masthead for some years as Contributing Editor.

During this period Weiner met such people as Tom Jenks of Narrative Magazine. Jenks, a fellow work-study intern whose Columbia School of the Arts degree took the fiction route. Pursuing a career in publishing, Jenks played a key role in the edit of The Garden of Eden, a Hemingway novel to emerge posthumously from Scriber’s.

Weiner also served as the Assistant Director at The Academy of American Poets. There she worked for a spell alongside the poet Henri Cole, also a Columbia School of the Arts classmate. Meeting ‘more or less every famous poet she’d ever wanted to meet,’ Weiner joined Henri in dining with these poets after Donnell Library readings.

The editor has had extensive teaching experience at Harvard University and Tufts University—right here in Somerville. At Tufts Weiner said, “I taught for five years along with David Rivard, Marie Howe, and a great poet we lost recently, Lucie Brock Broido.”

Weiner's first love is poetry. She has studied with likes of Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney, Phillip Levine, and Robert Pinsky—to name a few.

Earlier in her literary career she published poetry in the Harvard Review, The Paris Review, and was the recipient of the prestigious Grolier Prize in 1981. She hopes to re-focus increasing each year on writing of her own, and is pulling together a selection called, Haunted Timmy. “It’s not what it sounds,” says Weiner, who first divulged the title around Halloween time.

Weiner told me that she started CambridgeEditors by posting flyers around Cambridge and was a habituĂ© of Gnomon Copy in Harvard Square. This is reminiscent of what Eve Bridberg, the founder of the writer’s organization Grub Street, did to jump start her fledgling enterprise. Weiner told me that her group has grown over the years—to a much more wide-reaching clientele.

I asked Weiner what it takes to be an editor at CambridgeEditors. She replied, “Well, they have to go through a series of tests. We seek people with advanced degrees—mostly PhD’s. With our creative writing it is more by invitation. Poet Charles Coe is one of our creative writing editors.”

The typical client according to Weiner is from Cambridge and Somerville or just across the river that separates the little and literary art scene from Boston’s antiquarian one (although she has a fair number of international clients), usually academics, graduate students, or writers who want to have their manuscripts, articles, poetry, novels edited. And if you view the CambridgeEditors website you will see a plethora of testimony from folks her organization has helped over the years. Is money a little tight? Weiner said she customizes her editing to fit people of lesser means. And if she is really enamored with a project—she might offer a discount as well.

And bye- the-way I had this prolific editor edit this article-- and I am a better writer for it!

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